How to Fix a Loose and Rotating Bicycle Handlebar

Whether you ride a road bike, mountain bike, BMX bike or recumbent bike, the wear and tear on the different parts is bound to create problems in the performance of your bicycle. To keep your bike in top condition, and to keep you safe, one task you should know is how to tighten bike handlebars.

To keep your bike in top condition, and to keep you safe, one task you should know is how to tighten bike handlebars. (Image: Andrew Bret Wallis/Photodisc/GettyImages)

How to Tighten Bike Handlebars

If you've ever been on a bike with loose handlebars, then you know how unnerving it feels to not be in control, especially when you're accelerating downhill. That's because the handlebars enable you to steer the bike, and when they are not properly secure, you need to act quickly.

Sometimes you will notice a rattling noise when the headset bolts loosen over time. When this happens, you may notice wobbly steering. An easy way to check this, according to REI, is to engage the front brake and rock the bike front to back. While doing this, notice if there is a clunking or rattle to the handlebars. If there is, you may need to tighten the bike handlebars.

To do this, loosen the two horizontal pinch bolts on the stem with a hex wrench. After these are loosened, it's time to tighten the headset cap bolt. This may take a few tries before you get the right tension. But once you do, you'll want to retighten the side bolts that you loosened at the beginning of the process.

The final step before heading out on the road is to check the tightness of the handlebars. Stand your bike up as if you're going to get on it. Put the front wheel between your legs and try to turn the handlebars side to side. If your handlebars turn without your wheel turning, REI's instructions recommend re-loosening the side bolts and then retighten the center bolt.

Health Benefits of Bike Riding

Both outdoor and indoor cycling are great workouts that boost your cardiovascular endurance, give your legs a good pump and burn a lot of calories. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a 155-pound person bicycling at 12-13.9 mph can burn around 298 calories in 30-minutes. And if you can get your speed up to 20 mph, you can expect to burn around 614 calories for a 30-minute ride.

But it's not just the calorie burn that makes this activity a popular choice. Cycling is also easier on the joints than other workouts such as running. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the benefits of cycling extend beyond recreation and include targeting the leg muscles. When you pedal, you work most of the major muscle groups in the lower body such as the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Plus, a good ride also strengthens your lungs and heart by giving you an excellent cardio workout.

One area you should consider training prior to adding cycling to your fitness routine is your core, which includes the abdominal muscles, hip flexors and lower back. Having a strong core is essential for cycling since these muscles help support your posture and reduce the chances of injuring your lower back.

Tips for Bicycling Outdoors

Taking your workout from an indoor cycle bike to an outdoor road bike is quite a transition. While the pedaling motion may feel similar, dealing with wind resistance, road conditions and traffic, ups the intensity of the workout and increases safety concerns. That's why the National Safety Council advises cyclists to check their bike prior to riding on the road.

During these inspections, you will want to check the tire pressure and adjust the seat to the right height and lock it in place. This is also a great time to make sure all parts are secure and working properly and that your bike has safety features such as reflectors.

When you are on the road, it is always recommended to ride single-file in the direction of traffic and to use hand signals when turning. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stresses the importance of wearing a helmet that fits your head. To get a better idea of the right fit, they say it should sit level on your head and low on your forehead, with one or two finger-widths above your eyebrow. And finally, your helmet should never rock back more than two fingers above the eyebrows or rock forwards into your eyes.

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